Building a Book Cover

Outline, first draft, rewrite, copy edit, proof read, and choose a cover. Finally, I’ve reached the truly fun stage of preparing a book for publication. Working with my new cover designer is exciting for I never know what her brilliant brain will come up with.

I loved the cover she designed for When the Sun was Mine

not at all what I had in mind, but ever so much better than the image my non-artistic brain had imagined. Let’s see what she’ll do with the sequel.

  • Mon 3/20 10:06 am

Hello Anita,

I hope this finds you well.

I am in the final stages of completing a new novel about Flo and Brit (When the Sun was Mine) and am hoping you would do a cover for me.

Please say yes!

Anita’s response comes a couple of hours later. Yes! She’ll do it, wants to know when I need it and is ready to brainstorm in a couple of days. (Yes, Anita reads the book before she works on the cover design.)

  • Mon 3/20 2:09 pm

Hi, thrilled to hear that you’re willing to do this cover too. I could send you the word file if you’d like to start reading it. And I’m in no great rush.

Anita asks me to send the book and wants to know if I’m looking to have covers for both eBook and wrap/paperback? Then she asks for more information:

  • Tue 3/21 10:49 am

Hi Anita,

Here’s my novel. As you read keep in mind that I’m still doing some fine tuning and it hasn’t been formatted yet.

Your questions:

  • Interior type: Black and White, Black and White with Bleed, Full Color, or Full Color with Bleed? Black and white – no bleed.
  • Trim size: 5×8
  • Number of pages: I don’t have that yet.
  • Paper Color: White or Cream? Cream
  • Author Name: Darlene Jones
  • Title: Ah, now that’s one of the hardest parts of writing a novel. I had a couple of ideas, but when I checked Amazon there were numerous books with those titles and they were all cheesy romances. My book is definitely not a cheesy romance.
  • Tagline/subtitle if applicable: Will be working on the tag line and blurb in the next few days 
  • Back cover blurb:
  • Do you have anything specific in mind?  If so, can you please provide samples of photos/imagery/other books that helps tell your vision? I thought perhaps a boy herding goats in the savanna of West Africa superimposed over a battle or a man’s silhouette. You’ll see why when you read the book. BUT as this is directly connected to When the Sun was Mine, perhaps the cover should be connected in some way?
  • If you don’t have anything specific in mind, please see the following: Argh, ask the tough questions, why don’t you?
  1. What is the genre? Always difficult to answer because my books are cross genre and I need to have a genre that fits Amazon’s categories. Possibly adventure or mystery/adventure or …
  2. Synopsis You read the first book (When the Sun was Mine) so you know that story. In this book, Sidu is desperately trying to find out what Flo wrote on her laptop all those nights at Happy Hearts for she witnessed his crimes and if the authorities get their hands on evidence he could face a trial at The Hague and possible death. He kidnaps Brit to enlist her help for he knows she spent a lot of time with Flo. Meanwhile, Perry and Nancy have Flo’s files, but much of it is gibberish. Then Nancy figures out how to decipher Flo’s code and Brit finds letters of Flo’s and the pieces start to come together. 
  3. What other books might be a good comparison to your story? (Please include links.)
  4. Are there any books with covers that resemble what you are looking for in terms of design? (Please include links)
  5. What is the emotion/vibe you want the design to communicate? Danger, love, triumph over evil, and anything that strikes you after reading the MS. I’ve tried to show life in Africa back in 1970 (which is when I lived in Mali).
  6. Anything else you would like to add? Anita, I trust your judgement completely. You came up with a perfect cover for Sun, one that I never would have thought of so please don’t feel limited in anyway by my thoughts. ALSO. I welcome any ideas you might have for title and genre or anything else that comes to mind.

On March 29, Anita tells me she finished reading my book and really enjoyed it. My cover artist likes my book. Bonus! Then she adds, “I have been thinking about your story, and I understand your references to “a boy herding goats in the savanna of West Africa superimposed over a battle or a man’s silhouette,” I am just trying to think of how we can tie it with the same design style as book #1.  I did a quick search for herding goats and battle stocks There are lots of photos of battles and goats but not in the setting we need.

Another concept that came to me was a desert scene with a baobab tree with silhouettes of Sidu and Flo.  It captures the setting with a little bit of romance.  So I looked for some trees and these too are hard to find.  I can find silhouettes of trees but was thinking we should keep the silhouettes to the people if we use any.

I did create an inspiration board as a starting point. Many of these are not a good fit to work with, but might trigger an idea, or if you see something that catches your eye I can see if I can find something that is better suited:

http://www.istockphoto.com/collaboration/boards/sxChB4_rMk-ydsjNXYAwp

 

  • Wed 3/20 8:53 pm

Anita, I’m so glad to hear that you enjoyed my book. You’re the first one to read it besides my writing partner/editor.

I love the camel/desert pictures, but that’s the smaller part of the story. I think the middle picture in the seventh row could work as that’s the exact image of a baobab tree that I pictured as I wrote. And there are some huts in the background which rather mirrors the building on the cover of the first book. Silhouettes would add the right touch for the romance too. If you do the silhouettes the woman should be in a pagne. I’ve attached a couple of pictures so you can see what the clothing looks like – the first is one that I took when I was in Mali, the second I found on the Internet.

Anita tells me she’ll do some experimenting and explore silhouette images and see if the stock I picked will work for us.  She’s concerned about the exposure of the photo as it is very light.

Anita warns me that they’re expecting another big snow storm and may have a power loss.

NOTE: Anita is north of Boston and I’m on Vancouver Island

On Tuesday, April 4, Anita sends me to a link she thinks might work as the angle of it ties in with the girl from book #1:

http://www.istockphoto.com/photo/baobab-sunset-burst-gm476757284-66259397

“And,” she says, “When I blend it in with some of the imagery from the first book it is starting to take shape and have a streamlined look.”

 

  • Tue 4/4 2:52 pm

Anita, I have to say that I had a picture in my head of one big tree that they could meet under. I like the way you have tied it to When the Sun was Mine, but the trees are so tall, they make me look up right away and not focus on the center of the page. What about a picture like the attached?

Anita says she understands what I mean, but the challenge with the stock I picked is that the trunk is too short so it would have to be located near the upper half of the cover and it might be overpowering.

On April 6, Anita writes, “I attached a composite with the tree you last shared.  Let me know what you think.  If we go with this tree, we’d need to use a solid color for the spine since the tree branches are cut off, I can’t really extend them unless we find another stock where the full branches/tips are showing then I can manipulate and add those in.

For some reason I feel a sunset theme fits well with this story.  It helps set a dramatic tone.”

We go back and forth as Anita experiments with pictures I’ve chosen. She has concerns about perspective as she tries to incorporate huts into the trees to make it look realistic and we have to consider the issue of silhouettes of the people.

On April 10, Anita sends me a picture she’s not happy with as she can’t overcome the over exposure of the tree and asks if we could use another tree or a desert scene or something else.

  • Mon 4/10 3:54 pm

I agree. The impact of the tree is lost.

How about this? The tree is the kind that’s found in West Africa and the terrain suits too.

https://www.shutterstock.com/fr/image-photo/africa-sunset-baobab-trees-colorful-sky-178172774?src=wuq4LvAcYCdGAN3-ff9vNQ-1-6

 

On April 11, Anita sends another composite.

  • Tue 4/11 10:06 am

Anita, the tree and sky work, but not the couple – she’s too big and old and he looks like a white man.

With this picture, is it possible to have the village in the background?

Anita asks me to search for couples and send links to those I like and to try to find some where they sit in tall grass as that works best to help blend the photos.

 

  • Tue 4/11 1:42 pm

OMG I don’t know how you do this. My eyes are going buggy. Trying to find silhouettes, but either the man doesn’t look African or has the wrong clothes on or you see too much of their faces or the pose is entirely too sappy romantic or….

But I might have a solution. Would this silhouette work if you put it as if they were walking towards the tree? Also could this village be way in the background?

 

Anita agrees that it’s a time consuming process especially when looking for specifics. She can’t use my choice (an image of a couple holding hands) as their bodies are cut off, so in order to use it, it has to be enlarged and cover the entire page. But the village is a possibility depending on the image we end up using for the couple.

She attaches a sample.

 

  • Tue 4/11 6:35 pm

Anita, I really like this!!!

And I should have realized about the silhouette. That’s likely why I’m not a graphic artist – LOL.

Here are some silhouettes that might work. I particularly like the first one as it suits the story right down to the ponytail.

On April 12 Anita says,I think we have a winner!!  This is obviously a rough draft but the silhouette will be very similar to this, the houses as well. I’ll play around with the birds and see where they might best fit in to tie it in with book #1, as well as some minor tweaks with blending, shadows and colors, once we’ve finalized the concept.

 

  • Wed 4/12 11:04 am

Anita, There are so many aspects I love – the barren terrain, the subtlety of the village that is barely there (how do the people survive?), the dominance of the tree and the sky—all fit so well with the images I had in my head as I wrote. The silhouettes work well too. The man’s profile looks “African” (as opposed to American black) and the clothes are right as is the positioning – not a romantic couple per se, but showing a “togetherness” in that immense landscape.

I will purchase the stock and get them to you later today or tomorrow.

 

On April 13, Anita asks if I’ve decided on a title and if I have the firmed up page total as well as the back cover blurb?

 

  • Fri 4/14 11:41 AM

Hi Anita,

The book should be about 265 pages and I’ve attached the back cover for you.

Title: Whispers under the Baobab

 

On April 14 Anita sends me the current version.

 

  • Sat 4/14 9:04 AM

Anita, it’s beautiful!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!  Once again you have done an amazing job.

I ask for a few tweaks which Anita completes in a couple of days and sends the final version asking if I like it.

 

  • Mon 4/18 10:45 AM

 

Anita, I don’t just like it, I love it! The cover alone should “grab” readers. I’m impressed with your creativity and the way you can bring my vague ideas to such a brilliant conclusion.

My Beta reader is a young Nigerian – the one who came up with the When the Sun was Mine title. I sent him a picture of the new cover and he says: “Whoever did this cover deserves a special thanks from me, and well, a tall glass of sweet palm wine *smiles* I love it.”

 

Anita says, “Thank you so much for sharing, you truly made my day … and so very neat to receive such a nice compliment from someone from a different culture, especially when trying to resemble a scene from his world.” Thank you!!

And I say, Thank you, Anita!  Contact Anita: www.race-point.com  

 

http://www.darlenejonesauthor.com

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